Air Force Officer Who Vanished 35 Years Ago Is Found

William Howard Hughes Jr. was apprehended in California
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 11, 2018 6:01 AM CDT
Air Force Officer Who Vanished 35 Years Ago Is Found
This undated photo released by the U.S. Air Force shows Capt. William Howard Hughes, Jr., who was formally declared a deserter by the Air Force Dec. 9, 1983.   (U.S. Air Force photo via AP)

A Kirtland Air Force Base officer with top security clearance who disappeared 35 years ago has been found in California. The Air Force Office of Special Investigations said in a news release this week that William Howard Hughes Jr., was apprehended at his home after a fraud investigation involving a fake identity he had been using: "Barry O’Beirne." Hughes was involved in classified planning and analysis of NATO's control, command, and communications surveillance systems during the Cold War. He specialized in radar surveillance. Hughes, a captain, was 33 years old and single when he vanished. He was last seen withdrawing more than $28,000 in Albuquerque in the summer of 1983 after returning from a two-week vacation in Europe, reports the AP.

He had just completed a stint in the Netherlands, where he worked with NATO officers on the Airborne Warning and Control electronic surveillance aircraft. He was supposed to be back in Albuquerque by August of that year. An Office of Special Investigations spokeswoman told the Albuquerque Journal that there's no indication Hughes was involved with the Soviet Union or that any classified information was leaked. Hughes told authorities after his capture Wednesday that he was "depressed" about being in the Air Force and decided to leave. He created a fake identity and lived in California ever since. Hughes was charged with desertion and is being held at Travis Air Force Base in California.

(Read more Air Force stories.)

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